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CRES principal resigns, EL decision put on hold

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Sopris Sun Staff Report

Heather Cremeans, principal of Crystal River Elementary School, announced her decision to resign at the end of the current school year. In a letter to sent to community members last Friday, Superintendent Diana Sirko and Chief Academic Officer Rob Stein stated, “We are thankful for Heather’s hard work and dedication to our students during her two years as principal and we wish her all the best in her transition to new opportunities. As Heather has expressed her intentions to finish the year strong, we still have plenty of time to plan for celebrations and goodbyes.”

Cremeans began her tenure as principal of CRES in the fall of 2013. In an e-mail, she told The Sopris Sun “I am excited about the RFSD Strategic plan and look forward to CRES bringing it to fruition. I appreciate the staff and parents who have supported my efforts to make CRES the best it can be.”

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The letter from Sirko and Stein also provides a summary of the work being undertaken this year at CRES. As they explain, “teams of teachers and community members have worked on plans to clarify the school’s vision and mission, improve systems of instruction and support for students, and increase faculty leadership, collaboration and morale.” This work will continue, the letter states, “although in times of leadership transition it is often necessary to slow down.”

This fall CRES also entered into an exploration process with Expeditionary Learning (EL), a national network of schools, along with the district’s Glenwood Springs Elementary School. Crystal River Elementary School staff planned to make a decision later this month as to whether they want to join in a formal partnership with EL. According to the letter from Sirko and Stein, “Feedback from EL staff is that the there are many indications that Crystal River can be an excellent partner with EL, but at this time the staff is not ready to make a full commitment. EL has given us a recommendation that we support the staff in addressing some immediate challenges it is facing, including increasing staff collaboration and understanding of the EL design.”

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The letter goes on to explain, “There is still time this year to decide on a formal partnership with EL, but there is also the possibility of studying and adopting some EL core practices without formally becoming an EL school, and the possibility for the staff to determine that EL is not the right match for the school’s current needs.”

The district will be hiring an outside consultant to facilitate conversations among CRES staff as they move forward. A group of CRES staff members is meeting with a consultant this week to determine whether they want to recommend this person to work with the entire staff. As Stein told The Sun, staff members will be integrally involved in determining the specific goals and the process for working with the consultant.

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Crystal River Elementary School serves about 530 students from pre-school through Fourth grade. Information on Expeditionary Learning is available at Expeditionary Learning’s 10 design principals include:

• Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support.

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• Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment and time to make sense of what is observed.

• Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity.

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